23 May 17
Jimmy Bolger believes Ireland could produce yet another winner of the Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship this year.
The Kilkenny Golf Club professional won the Irish qualifying round of the competition at Luttrellstown Castle Golf & Country Club.
And he will return to the same venue where 18 other qualifiers will be aiming for a home win - and the second Irish champion in as many years.
Last year it was David Higgins (Waterville Golf Links) who triumphed at The Oxfordshire course.
And Bolger says there will be an extra edge from the home-based players when the £78,000 grand final is played at the Co Dublin venue between June 13-16.
“If you’re an Irish player and you can’t get excited for this event then you don’t have a heartbeat,” smiled the former European Tour player who is now competing on the seniors circuit.
“It’s fantastic to have it here rather than us having to make the trip over to the UK, and hopefully we have an Irish winner.
“It’ll be a home venue and of course you’re going to want to do well and an Irish player because you’ll have local support at the course. There’ll be some members from your club and a lot of Irish people around wanting to see the home guys do well.
“It’s a nice pressure to have. But having the final here is fantastic, this is as big as it gets for a club pro.
“I’ve always made the cut in the final but never really been a contender. But I’m 50 now and I played my first seniors event last week - I’ve been playing in the last few weeks and it showed here. But I’ll be working on my putting in the build up to the final. I putted very poorly here.”
Bolger recorded and one under par round of 71 in qualifying event and won by one shot ahead of Damian Mooney (Damien Mooney Golf) and Simon Thornton.
He made an eagle at the par five third hole and two birdies on the back nine.
“It’s a great golf course and one that I tend to play well on, I’ve won some pro-am events here and this qualifier a couple of times,” added Bolger.
“Now it’ll be great to have a four-round final in Ireland and it’s a couple of weeks before our national final which is a great run in," he said.
Also among the qualifiers was Hazel Kavanagh (Carr Golf Centre at Spawell).